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Half of anxiety patients misdiagnosed as schizophrenic

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have found that many schizophrenia patients are being misdiagnosed by non-specialty physicians; in reality, many of these patients suffer from anxiety. This should be of interest to some in Florida, especially those who suffer from anxiety because the two conditions share similar symptoms like auditory hallucinations.

The study involved 78 cases, spanning from February 2011 to July 2017, where schizophrenia patients were referred to the Johns Hopkins Early Psychosis Intervention Clinic for consultation. Researchers interviewed the patients and their families, conducted physical exams and had the patients fill out a questionnaire. This was the preliminary to their review of each patient’s medical and psychosocial history.

Fifty-four patients had come to the clinic diagnosed with schizophrenia, but only 26 subsequently received a confirmed diagnosis. The clinic more accurately diagnosed the remaining 51% as having anxiety or a mood disorder.

The Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America relates five symptoms that must be present for a patient to be diagnosed with schizophrenia: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized behavior or catatonia, and other negative symptoms such as trouble expressing emotions or carrying out plans. The non-specialty physicians were correct in using this list, researchers found, but they rarely sought a second opinion from a psychiatry specialist.

Such a mistake might provide the grounds for a case under medical malpractice law. General practitioners would refer to an oncologist if a patient is suspected to have cancer, and a similar procedure should be taken when they suspect a psychiatric disorder. Diagnostic errors can often lead to medication errors, wrong-site surgery and other preventable incidents for which victims should not have to pay from their own pocket. Victims are required to take action within two years of incurring harm, so they may want a lawyer to assist with their claim.

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